The Moral Argument – Revealer of Hypocrites

In the book of Daniel, we find one of the less frequently referenced titles of God. It’s just before the turn of the sixth century B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar who will soon to besiege and capture Jerusalem, has already captured the leading families in the southern kingdom of Judah and  carried away anyone with potential to Babylon. After the death of his father Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar has decided to clean house of fake wisemen and astrologers. His method of discerning who’s fake? He’s had a disturbing dream and has  decided that unless his “magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers” (Dan 2.2) can both tell him the dream and explain it, their fate is sealed. The king had firmly decided  he would “…have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble.” (Dan 2.5) if they could not both reveal the dream and interpret it.

It is in this context that the prophet Daniel, then a young man who had been carried off to Babylon with the other promising young future leaders, made known a rarely referenced, but often experienced (though not necessarily recognized) work of God: that God is the “revealer of mysteries.” (Dan 2.29 NIV;  KJV uses “secrets.”) God proceeds to reveal to Daniel both  Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and the meaning, thus saving his life along with his friends and the other wise men.

God revealed truth that Nebuchadnezzar knew to be true. He dare not deny it. And to his credit he didn’t. The Moral Argument likewise reveals truth that all who are confronted by it know to be true. But unlike Nebuchadnezzar, those unwilling to acknowledge the existence of God are not as forthcoming. They will recognize the truth, but will refuse to verbally acknowledge it. Instead, they try to hide the obvious by suggesting a  number of common but ineffective excuses as to why the Moral Argument doesn’t prove God exists, or impose moral obligations. The excuses are ineffective because just as God is the revealer of mysteries, the Moral argument is the revealer of hypocrites and it exposes those who deny it. Continue Reading

Are Biblical accounts copied from pagan religions? Part 2. The Resurrection

Depiction of the empty tomb of Jesus

Depiction of the empty tomb of Jesus

Since the original sin in the garden of Eden, mankind has searched for reasons not to believe God so he could live a life independent of God. In the garden, the serpent convinced Eve not to trust God. Why? Supposedly because God was holding back the knowledge of good and evil to the detriment of Adam and Eve. The serpent suggested God was wrong f0r withholding that knowledge, but that if they were to discover the truth, they would be “like God”. (Gen 3.5) That was a big lie. God was indeed withholding the knowledge of evil, but he was not wrong in doing so because he knew that (experiential) knowledge of evil (like disobeying God) would lead to death.  And the biggest irony is – they were already like God (Gen 1.26),  there was nothing to be gained from what the serpent offered.

Today there is another lie circulating to destroy belief in God: The claim that the biblical accounts are not history, but rather stories borrowed or stolen and then adapted from the made up stories of pagan religions. If there’s no reason to believe the pagan religions, then there’s no reason to believe a made up story based on it either. Continue Reading

Misguided attacks by evolutionists

 Those who deny God’s activity in the creation routinely try to kill any evidence that originates from the Bible.

In their zeal to defend evolutionary theory evolutionists often make unfounded and fallacious charges and accusations. Following is the problem with three of those attacks.

1. A Misguided attack on reason: “There’s no evidence of God”

The only alternative to life arising via some form of evolution, is that all life originated from God. There is no other alternative. Thus, in support of the godless theory of evolution, atheists and evolutionists alike tend to use the argument “there’s no evidence of God”, and its variant “there’s no evidence for x” – for any “x” they don’t believe. They don’t believe in God, so they say there’s no evidence of God. They don’t believe in an intelligent designer, so they say there’s no evidence for intelligent design. They don’t believe in miracles, so they say there’s no evidence of miracles, and some will foolishly go so far as to say there’s no evidence of the miracle worker Jesus.  What are we to make of such allegations? Continue Reading

Weapons of warfare against atheist propaganda

atheist propaganda - do you recognize the lies?

Do you recognize false materialist propaganda when you see it?

Christians must expose the deceit of materialist atheist propaganda 

 

 

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.
The weapons we fight with1 are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
2 Cor 10.3-5

As the above scripture illustrates, the spiritual walk of a Christian living in a secular world is often compared to warfare. Correction – it is not compared to warfare, scripture states Christians are in fact engaged in a protracted, ongoing war. We are locked in battle with an enemy intent on killing us. Failing that,  the enemy wants to cause as much damage as possible to his foe – the creator of  the heavens and the earth. Since the enemy – Satan – is powerless to harm God, he has turned his attacks on all that God loves and has created.  Thus his targets have become – first and foremost – the pinnacle of God’s creation: mankind – those created in the image of God.

It is that image the enemy tries to mar and efface by incessant attempts to get individuals to sin, and thus bring upon him or herself the soiling or preferably effacing of God’s image.  The war on mankind extends to attacks on the family (which in these days have become obvious).  The numerous attempts to redefine what “family” is, the attacks to redefine what “male” and “female” consists of, are all part of the battle. Also in the cross hairs: attacks on worship of the one true God. Judging by the many religions; that is one target with which he’s had much success at attacking.

But these targets are just means to an end, for the real goal is to deny God the glory he so richly deserves, by stealing that glory and appropriating it to himself.  Though he tried to hide his plans, Satan could not keep them secret from the Lord God who knows the thoughts of every heart:

You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”
Isaiah 14. 13-14

With that in his heart it’s easy to see why Satan hates the antiphonal calling of the angels in heaven:

Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
Isaiah 6.3

Yet being powerless to change anything that happens in heaven, the enemy has instead  put a target on the back of every Christian. The question to Christians is, do we behave like we’re in a war zone? Or do we blithely go through our existence acting as if our life is a stroll through the park; seemingly either ignorant or unconcerned about the battle raging all around us?  Continue Reading

Everyone should have one

The Watchmaker Analogy –
Only those with an agenda to deny design would deny the design clearly apparent in a mechanical watch.
A mechanical watch such as this see through one aptly illustrates the principle of clearly apparent design.

I tend to be hard on watches. The bands break, the crystals crack, they get scratched up – something usually befalls them. So I tend to ask for watches as gifts – especially around Christmas time. This past year was no different. My family gave me an extraordinary gift – two watches – one digital, one mechanical. What’s extraordinary is not that I received two watches (though that was very nice), it’s the type of watch I received.

The one watch – a mechanical one featured above – is an amazing sight to behold. It has a see through design, so you can see the inner mechanisms from both the front and the back. I’m not a watch maker, so bear with me as I try to describe just a few of the marvelous mechanisms in this mechanical wonder with terms borrowed from Wikipedia. As I said, it’s mechanical – not battery operated, so it has a  mainspring; but it is also self winding, so it has an “eccentric weight” which you can see from the back moving back and forth with the motion of the watch, attached to a mechanism that winds the mainspring. From the front, in addition to the regular motion of the sweeping second hand, you can see the oscillating motion of the balance wheel marking out regular intervals of time. You can see the mainspring and the various gears which make up the gear train, and particularly the escapement mechanism and its back and forth motion moving the gears at a set rate and producing the familiar ticking sound mechanical watching are known for.

When I saw it, I couldn’t help but marvel at the ingenuity of the device. The design elements which are clearly present have made this made favorite watch – so much so that I don’t even allow myself to wear it – lest I break it like all my other watches. And of course, seeing the inner mechanism, I couldn’t help but be reminded of William Paley’s argument for the existence of God from his watchmaker analogy. All the carefully designed, produced and assembled parts noted above, Paley calls “contrivances” – an appropriate word he uses in his Natural Theology to describe the clear elements of design evident in such a watch.  His watchmaker’s argument for the existence of God is a classic argument. If you’ve never read it, or haven’t read it recently, I encourage you to read it.  From his 18th century vantage point he anticipates and counters objections still used by 21st century atheists and other objectors to the argument from design. That argument is also known as the Teleological argument (from the Greek Telos – meaning end or goal). Teleological arguments focus on an intended outcome, a goal which is clearly manifest in the item under consideration. Of course intentions are only possible by a being who intends them, thus if a goal or intention is apparent, there was obviously a being who initially had that goal or intention.

Paley isn’t the first to use the argument. A version of the argument was used by Socrates, and a well developed version was presented by Thomas Aquinas. In his Summa Theologiae, Aquinas presents five proofs for the existence of God. His fifth proof is a Teleological one – based on the “guidedness of nature.”  He considers inanimate, unaware objects – like an arrow – which tend toward a goal and notes “Nothing that lacks awareness tends to a goal, except under the direction of someone with awareness and understanding; the arrow, for example, requires an archer.”1

This is a perfect description of the watch and its “contrivances”; you can see the watch clearly and very effectively tends toward the goal of marking the passage of time. It marks of the passage of not just one unit of time but multiple units of time: marking off the passage of seconds, minutes and hours as does the one depicted above. Other watches also include days, months and years.  This is clearly not by accident, and the mechanisms are clearly designed and obviously point to an intelligent designer. In my opinion this watch is so clearly and obviously designed, the conclusion that it was designed by a watchmaker is inescapable. 

A mere cursory examination of the watch, combined with a consideration of the goal or purpose that it achieves, when considered along with the fact that inanimate objects have no goals or intentions  (as atheists readily admit2), can lead you to no other conclusion. And thus the title: everyone should have one of these see through mechanical watches. Just as the tefillin of the old testament reminded you of God’s commands3; such a watch  cannot help but remind you of the designer, and in so doing allude to the designer of the universe and all life.

You’ll note that those who claim to refute the analogy from the design in a watch never offer to demonstrate how non-guided, random forces can produce such a watch. Which is why Dawkins’ “Blind Watchmaker” thesis – that complex creatures can come about by purposeless processes is so utterly ridiculous, and lays bare his intention to deny design at all costs. Without an intelligence to guide the process,  unguided forces would not tend toward any goal as Aquinas notes, and thus you could not get any of the required components of living organisms that are complex and fulfill a goal – such as proteins, cellular structures, and entire organs like hearts, lungs and eyes. Continue Reading

AD Apologetics – Part 2: Jesus’ Triumphant Resurrection

A light shines during the resurrection of Jesus while Guards at the tomb are unaware.

A light shines during the resurrection of Jesus while Guards at the tomb are unaware. (AD The Bible Continues)

The series “AD – The Bible Continues” presents a strong case for the resurrection of Jesus.

In  part 1, Jesus’ death and the empty Tomb, the uniqueness of Christianity was examined through  a consideration of the following questions:

Why believe in Christianity?
What makes Christianity different from any other religion?
Why not believe in other religions?
What makes Jesus different from the founder of other religions?
How do you know Christianity is true?
Why should I believe in Jesus?

The answer to all those questions is resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead – it is the answer to each question, and what makes Christianity unique. Furthermore, Christianity is the only religion which provides hope for us mortal men and women through a savior who has demonstrated mastery over death by himself rising from the dead. And that savior offers the same resurrection to all who believe in him.

That claim – resurrection from the dead –  is so startling, so bold, so beyond common experience that some people refuse to even consider it as a possibility. Such doubt has been expressed by the well known liberal scholar,  the late Rudolph Bultmann who in his disbelief writes,

Continue Reading

AD Apologetics – Part 1: Jesus’ death and the Empty Tomb

Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb

Mary Magdalene discovers the empty tomb (John 20.1) in “AD – The Bible Continues” episode 2 “The Body is Gone”

The series “AD – The Bible Continues” presents many strong evidences of why the resurrection of Jesus is true.

Why believe in Christianity?
What makes Christianity different from any other religion?
Why not believe in other religions?
What makes Jesus different from the founder of other religions?
How do you know Christianity is true?
Why should I believe in Jesus?


The answer to these an many other question about the authenticity of the Christian faith is the same.  That which:

 – distinguishes Jesus and Christianity from any other religion,
– validates that Christianity is true, and
– proves that Jesus is the son of God

 is the same fact: the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
The resurrection of Jesus is the most important doctrine of the Christian faith

No other religion has a founder who has proved he is the Lord of Life by showing mastery over death by being raised from the dead. This is precisely the point scripture makes when it proclaims:

…who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.  (Rom 1.4)

The resurrection of Jesus is the most important doctrine of the Christian faith, because without the resurrection there is no point to the Christian faith, and indeed no  faith at all. Or as the apostle Paul put it:

And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
1 Cor 15.14, 17

It is no wonder then that of all the doctrines that critics, liberal scholars and those who wish to destroy Christianity could take aim at,  the one they choose to attack early, often and most viciously is the teaching that Jesus Christ rose physically from the dead, after having being put to death on a Roman cross and entombed. Continue Reading

The Problem of Evil – proof that God exists

The Fall of Lucifer - Antonio María Esquivel y Suárez de Urbina, 1840
The Fall of Lucifer
Antonio María Esquivel y Suárez de Urbina, 1840
Paradoxically, the problem of evil is proof that God exists.

On Friday, December 14th, 2012 a gunman who shall remain unnamed so as to deny him any further fame, entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton Connecticut, and shot and killed 20 students and 6 adults. Before driving to the school for the rampage he had killed his mother, and when finally confronted, he killed himself bringing the death toll to 28. In a news conference that same day, Gov. Dannel Malloy summed it up succinctly: “Evil visited this community today”. 

This article is being written, as it turns out, on the 20th anniversary1 of the Oklahoma City Bombing on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building which killed 168 people and caused 680 nonfatal injuries. Additionally it caused an estimated $652 million in damages.

These are but a couple of drops in a sea of evil that in one way or another touches the lives of every single human being that lives and has ever lived. This curse upon humanity is paradoxically an affirmation of the truth of God for Christians, while for those unwilling to believe,  it becomes a reason (in their mind) why they shouldn’t believe God exists. Why is it that people can look at the same evidence and come to diametrically opposed conclusions? How can consideration of a single issue – in this case the existence of evil – result in such radically different reactions and beliefs from people? One might ask the same questions of a phenomenon at the other extreme of the moral continuum – miracles.

When you get right down to it, atheists do not believe the core tenets of atheisms and evolution... Why do miracles cause some to believe, while others only see in them only something to either scoff at or be angry at; or to make accusations that people are being “misled”?  In both cases (reactions to the problem of evil and the reaction to miracles) the root cause is the same: an unwillingness to acknowledge God as Lord who will bring all created things under his control and under his judgment.

The mere  thought of God as Lord manifests itself for many as statements of unbelief.  As particles in the atmosphere are the core around which moisture coalesces to form rain drops or snow, likewise miracles and the problem of evil  are items around which unbelief can coalesce and be visibly expressed.

For those living in disobedience the prospect of a God who will judge all is a scary one. And their unwillingness to face this truth is not because of their ignorance of God – no God has made his existence plain to all (Rom 1.19).  No, it’s not ignorance of God that’s the problem, it’s an unwillingness to be subject to God that causes them to express views inconsistent with their worldview, and thus speak as a hypocrite or express irrational view (or both) as we’ll see. Continue Reading

Diamonds – A Girl’s and a Creationist’s Best Friend

Marilyn Monroe singing 'Diamonds ae a Girl's Best Friend' in the movie 'Gentemen Prefer Blonds'

Marilyn Monroe singing ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’ in the movie “Gentlemen Prefer Blonds”

Diamonds are evidence of  young earth, and so they present a perfect opportunity to witness, using it as a symbol and object lesson.

 In an age of visually oriented communications such as TV, movies and the internet, the power of symbols is not lost on content makers such as advertisers and movie producers.  This is particularly true when you combine pop icons with these symbols to make a lasting impression. Case in point: diamonds. The point was indelibly etched in the courting rule book when the iconic beauty Marilyn Monroe sang:

“a kiss on the hand may be quite continental, but diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”1

Since then, aside from the numerous remakes2 from beauties trying to channel the appeal and success of Marilyn, we’ve had regular reminders that “diamond’s are a girl’s best friend.” They come right around this time of year – in time for the Christmas shopping season, to reminded you that if you really want to express your love to a lady, the proper way to do it is with a diamond. This year it was done with a twist – taking a form of  nature documentary and using penguins instead of people3, but the message was the same.

There are multiple lessons for Christians here – aside from the well known fact that advertisers can use beautiful women to sell their wares.  They are as follows:

1. God first used signs & symbols, and continues to use them

During the creation week, God said:

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years,
Gen 1.14

And as the children of Israel were about to enter the promised land, God gave them these instructions:

6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and
bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deut 6.6-8

So God was the first to use signs and symbols.4 And of particular interest is his  command to his people to have a symbol of his word, his instructions to them for proper living displayed prominently both on their person , and on their houses. This command was fulfilled with the placing of  tephillim (Phylacteries in the New Testament (Matt 23.5)) on the wrist and forehead; and a mezuzah on the house. Why? Because what advertisers have learned, God already knew: the power of a constant reminder in the form of a symbol. His purpose is clear: to impress the importance of His word upon His people, God used symbols – the tephillim and mezuzah – which both symbolized his word and contained portions of it.

Another symbol, mentioned briefly in my article  Physical Evidence that Jesus Existed, is that of the Chi Rho (the first two Greek letters in “Christ”). History records how God used the symbol to inspire General and soon to be Roman Emperor Constantine to trust in Christ, not the pagan gods on the eve before what would be a decisive battle for the victor.  Constantine’s victory at the Mulvian bridge over his rival  Maxentius led to Constantine extending his power, allowing him to legalize Christianity in the Roman empire, ending (eventually) the widespread persecution of Christians and setting the stage for accelerated growth of the church.

A final example: Jesus indicated that his return will be preceded or accompanied by “the sign of the Son of Man” (Matt 24.30).  Thus signs and symbols have been in use by God to further the faith since the beginning, and continue to be in use. Clearly we have as a precedent God’s own use of signs and symbols in furtherance of the faith.

2. God redeems and claims symbols for his own use

The cross is arguably the most recognized symbol in the world.  For Christians it represents Christ’s passion and redemption, hope and eternal life.  Even for non-believers it is a well recognized symbol of Christianity. But it was not always that way.  The cross is after all an instrument of death. And not just any death, a death of torture – a slow death of literally excruciating pain. (The root of excruciate is crux – meaning cross).  The cross was used not only to execute, but to intimidate. In that regard it also excelled because it became one of the most feared forms of execution in the ancient world.

Even so,  God took that instrument of death and torture, and turned it into a symbol of hope, and of the true faith. That transformation from sign of intimation and death; to sign of hope for the faithful has not been lost upon historians: Continue Reading